• 7 May 2015

What’s in your paint?

What’s in your paint?

Most contemporary buildings such as homes and offices feature an array of painted surfaces but what’s concerning is that a lot of paint contains nasty ingredients that can potentially have serious consequences for human health.

ROCKCOTE EcoStyle Paints are non-toxic and contain zero Volatile Organic Compounds making them more environmentally friendly and better for your health than most other paints on the market.

Why does ROCKCOTE eliminate the chemicals that are in many other paints? Take a look at what these chemicals can do to you.

Glycol ethers: used as solvents in resins and paints, and can be found in cleaning compounds and cosmetics. According to the US Environmental Protection Authority Protection Authority, short-term exposure to high levels of glycol ethers can result in narcosis, pulmonary edema, upper respiratory tract irritation and severe liver and kidney damage. Chronic exposure may result in neurological and blood effects including fatigue, nausea, tremor and anaemia. 

Formaldehyde: used in the manufacture of paints, wallpapers, glues and resins and a preservative in consumer products and can be a major source of indoor air pollution. Formaldehyde is classified as a carcinogenic to humans by the World Health Organisation. Studies show it can induce squamous cell carcinoma of the nasal cavity in rats and nasopharyngeal cancer in humans. Indoor exposure can cause irritation of the eyes and upper airways. 

Phthalates: chemical plasticisers used in the production of plastics, inks, paints and other products. According to the International Chemical Secretariat, several phthalates are reported to disturb the endocrine system and act as a synthetic oestrogen causing deformities in male reproductive organs, premature breast development and breast cancer. 

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): poisonous chemicals that can easily evaporate at room temperature. They are emitted by a variety of commonly used products and are usually found in indoor air with concentrations indoors up to ten times higher than outdoors. These gases can remain airborne for up to seven years. Short term exposure can cause headaches, dizziness, light-headedness, eye and respiratory irritation. It’s important to note that a paint can be low or zero VOC and still include many of the other toxic chemicals discussed here. Be sure to check with the paint manufacturer prior to purchase.

Ammonia: is widely used in cleaners, disinfectants, fertilisers and the preparation of plastics and resins. In paints, it is often a source of the "new paint smell" that can linger for a long period of time after the job is completed. Exposure to high levels can cause irritation and burns to skin, mouth, throat, lungs and eyes. In waterways, it can cause moderate to long-term toxicity to aquatic life. 

Other ingredients: The following ingredients are commonly used by paint manufacturers. Their production is extremely energy intensive. To achieve Good Environmental Choice certification under GECA's Paints and Coatings Standard, tight limits are placed on their use:

  • Titanium dioxide
  • Zinc oxide
  • Lithopene

Many paint companies also add more toxic chemicals that mask awful smell of the paint itself.

EcoStyle Paints contain no glycol ethers, formaldehyde, phthalates, VOCs, ammonia or lithopene. Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are well within the allowable limits.

With information readily available on the impacts of some of these ingredients on human health, it is important for consumers to make informed decisions about the products they are using. Independent certification through GECA removes doubt and confusion and makes identifying environmentally and socially preferable paints easier.